Legal Gambling and Online Poker in Georgia
2021 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Georgia?
The Georgia legislature hasn’t taken up online poker yet, but there have been a few sports betting bills. One was introduced in 2016, but fizzled out in 2017. Then, at the beginning of 2020, State Senator Burt Jones introduced another one. This one gave the Georgia Lottery permission to offer online sports betting. The bill proposed a 20 percent tax on online sportsbook operators and most of the revenue would go to a scholarship fund.
But what made this legislation different was the people behind it. Historically professional sports leagues have been opposed to sports betting — that’s what the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was all about– but they’re on board in Georgia. The bill is backed by an alliance that includes the Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Falcons.
This is the biggest positive step towards online gaming in Georgia, a state that has some of the strictest gambling laws in the country.
Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Georgia
Gambling in Georgia is highly regulated. Laws a strict, real strict. Georgia has some of the strictest gambling laws in the United States. Georgia outlaws the many dos and don’ts in the Georgia Code.
One section, 16-12-21(a)(3) states that it’s illegal to be and play for money in any game that involves cards. The code also establishes a gambling place to include everything from boats to tents. That means no underground card games on camping trips.
If you have any doubts about what constitutes a bet in Georgia, the state code helps you out. Georgia Code 16-12-20 classifies a “bet” as:
“An agreement that, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value.”
This is fairly unique to Georgia. Most states don’t include “some skill” in their definition. Normally, definitions only include the word “chance. Since a federal judge ruled poker is a game of skill, that leaves it out of most state definitions. But Georgia’s inclusion of “some skill” puts poker on murky territory.
Legal Gambling in Georgia
Despite the mega strict gambling laws, there are two forms of legal gambling in Georgia. The state of Georgia regulates and has a state-run lottery and it also allows for charitable gaming. There have been proposals to allow for casinos and other forms of gambling, but they’ve all fallen apart.
Nonprofit organizations can get a license to throw raffles or bingo games. These games have to raise money for charity. Organizations get licenses from Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They have to report their revenue and contestants have to be over 18. All these rules are in effect as long as the prizes are worth $5 or more. So, as long as it’s for a good cause, you can gamble a little more than you normally can in Georgia.
The Georgia State Lottery has been running since 1992. It was a big success and made more than $450 million in its first few months. The lottery is still incredibly popular in Georgia. It makes sense, since there’s nothing else to bet on in the state. The state started selling lottery tickets online in 2012.
The lottery is headquartered in Atlanta and operated by the Georgia Lottery Corporation, find all their contact information here . Their laws states that half the money collected goes to prizes/payouts, a third to education and the rest towards operational expenses.
Georgia has an interesting history with casinos. There’s currently just one casino left, the Emerald Princess Casino. While it’s a live casino, it’s not exactly brick-and-mortar. The Emerald Princess is more metal and hulls. Georgia has provisions for casino cruises, but not actual buildings on land. There used to be two more casino cruises out of Savannah, Georgia, but they’ve since both shut down.
People keep proposing brick & mortar casinos though and they might succeed one of these years.
Georgia Sports Betting
There’s still no sports betting in Georgia. Some lawmakers have been trying to push it through for the last few years. 2021 finished without the legislature taking the bill and turning it into law. We’ll see if they come back next year and finally manage to make some progress on it.
Georgia Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily Fantasy Sports are all the rage across the United States. Georgia is no exception. With a number of pro sports teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Braves, it’s no surprise Georgians love to dabble in Fantasy Sports. Fantasy sports hasn’t been explicitly legalized by the state, but it’s been tolerated so far.
Can I Play Online Poker on PokerStars in Georgia?
Nope. There was a time, back in the day, where you could play PokerStars in the US freely, even in Georgia. But after being seized by the DOJ on Black Friday, PokerStars left the United States for a while. Now it’s slowly coming back and is only available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
But if you’re in Georgia and looking for a site like PokerStars, you’re still in luck. There are plenty of sites that accept players from all over the United States. We’ve extensively reviewed several of these sites and recommend sites like Ignition Poker and Americas Cardroom. If you want to see our other reviews just click on the sites below.
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